Former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial will begin in the Senate at 1 p.m. EST Tuesday. The upper chamber will serve as the jury in the case against Trump, determining whether to convict or acquit him for charges levied by the House of Representatives.
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The House voted to impeach the former president one week after a pro-Trump mob ransacked the US Capitol as lawmakers voted to certify the results of President Joe Biden’s victory in the November election. Five people died in the assault.
Hours of debate are expected on a range of issues, including the constitutionality of impeaching a president after they have left office, whether Trump goaded the mob into insurrection and if Senators can vote to bar the former president from holding public office in the future.
Coverage of the impeachment is expected to be widespread. Here is what to expect from the second impeachment trial of former President Trump.
Tuesday: Vote on trial’s constitutionality
Before the trial can begin, senators will debate whether it is within their power to hold the trial at all. Several GOP senators and some conservative legal scholars have theorized a post-presidency trial is unconstitutional, but most legal experts believe a trial is constitional.
The Senate will devote four hours of debate on the issue where senators can make the case for and against Congress’ jurisdiction in impeaching a former president.
The vote on whether the impeachment is constitutional is widely seen as a bellwether for how senators, especially Republicans, will vote in the trial.
Wednesday and Thursday: Prosecution opening arguments
After the trial begins, the nine impeachment managers from the House of Representatives, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, will present their case as to why the president deserves to be convicted by the Senate.
The cases cannot exceed sixteen hours in total, meaning debate will probably be spread out over the first two days of the trial.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday: Defensive opening arguments
After the prosecution has had its say, lawyers for former President Trump will mount their defense with another sixteen hours of floor time. If the defense continues past Friday at 5 p.m., lawmakers are set to reconvene Sunday as Saturday is reserved for the Sabbath.
The Trump legal team, however, has withdrawn its request to avoid the Sabbath, so the Senate will probably meet Saturday rather than Sunday. Trials always run six days per week, which is usually Monday through Saturday. The Senate has not yet agreed to Saturday hearings, though.
Sunday or Feb. 15: Senators ask questions
After both sides have made their arguments, senators will have the opportunity to ask any questions they please about the cases made and evidence provided. Lawmakers can ask both the prosecution and the defense these questions.
Senators will write down their questions and the presiding officer of the Senate, currently Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., will pose the questions to either the impeachment managers of Trump’s legal team. This phase of the trial will take four hours.
February 15 and thereafter: Debate over witnesses
After formal cases have been made for and against Trump, senators will deliberate on whether they will bring any witnesses to testify in front of the chamber. The situation is especially complicated as lawmakers were themselves witnesses to and victims of the Capitol riot.
Many lawmakers in both parties also do not want the trial to happen at all; Republicans will likely remain skeptical of the constitutionality of the exercise and not vote for any witnesses. Several Democrats have also pessimistically said that the trial is a futile exercise.
If senators decide to bring many witnesses before the body, the impeachment trial can be significantly slowed down to hold enough time for each testimony. If no witnesses are called, then senators are expected to quickly proceed to a vote on whether to convict or acquit.
The final vote
After any witnesses are heard during the trial of the president, senators will hold a final vote on whether to convict or acquit Trump. Democrats will likely seek a vote afterward on whether to bar Trump from over holding public office, including the presidency, ever again.
Source: USA Today – Breaking News